This new and exciting tour is very much an adventure as we visit the vast open wilderness of Mongolia in search of its fabulous wildlife. We will be visiting some of the more easily accessible areas within this great country. Most journeys will be done on tarmac roads with limited dirt road travel and as with most tours to Mongolia, accommodation will involve a large amount of camping and some walking in mountainous areas. Therefore this tour is for the more adventurous traveller with a good level of fitness and prepared to accept more basic accommodation and facilities but the wildlife experiences and scenery should be simply spectacular! The beauty of this tour is that unlike other Snow Leopard focused tours in other parts of the world, the temperatures in Mongolia should be more comfortable! We will have a team of drivers, cooks, interpreters & assistants in a convey of just two Toyota Land Cruisers so everyone has a window seat.
Our time will be focused very much on trying to see Snow Leopard as well as other key mammals such as Pallas’s Cat. This means much of our time will be spent in one area scanning mountains for many hours in the early morning and late evening. Though not the best time for a birding itinerary, we will still make an effort to look for key species outside of the key mammal focused times and we should see a good selection of the specialities. The later tours should also produce a number of interesting migrant birds.
Day 1: Arrive in Ulaanbaatar
After arriving into Ulaanbaatar in the early morning we will then head south to Dalanzadgad. We will travel the 590Km by road making birding stops en route. Birds we hope to find en route include Demoiselle Crane, Mongolian Lark, Pallas’s Sandgrouse and both Himalayan Griffon and Black Vultures.
Overnight Dalanzadgad Hotel
Day 2: Travel to the mountains west of Dalanzadgad
Today we will travel by dirt road to reach our Ger Camp. En route we will look for mammals and birds and set up camp which will be our base for the next 7 nights to focus on searching for Snow Leopard and Pallas’s Cat. Species we are likely to see today include Upland Buzzard, Saker Falcon, Demoiselle Crane, Mongolian Lark, Pallas’s Sandgrouse and with luck, Oriental Plover. Commoner mammals we will hope to find include Siberian Ibex and Corsac Fox before we spend the first afternoon focusing on our key species, the Snow Leopard! Overnight in Ger tents with camp shower, toilet & food catering tent
Days 3 – 8: Ger Camp at around 2,300M
During the next few days our time will focus on Snow Leopard and Pallas’s Cat with much of our time spent scanning from viewpoints. Our plans will very much depend upon the latest information from our trail cameras and speaking with local herders. Generally, we will focus on cats from early in the morning until mid morning and late afternoon to early evening. We we may drive short distances to vary our viewpoint at times and use small tents overnight before returning to base camp later the next day. We will also spend time looking for key birds in the day and other mammals at night. If time allows we will make a visit to the Khongor Sand Dunes for species such as Saxaul Sparrow and Asian Desert Warbler.
During 2017/18 Snow Leopards were coming to drink at our exclusive site almost every day, but of course each year is different depending on the amount of rainfall available. The summer of 2018 experienced exceptional rainfall during July! However, at this time of year, it should be very dry and therefore increase our chance of connecting with this amazing cat. The area is continually monitored by trail cameras as well as regular information being shared with our local guide from local nomads and rangers who will also help us try and succeed with our quest.
Our base camp will depend on recent news, but is most likely to be at around 2,300M close to areas that we can view Snow Leopard habitat. Temperatures during the night should be around 15-18 C during the night and 28-32 C during the day. The furthest trek required to one any viewpoint is an hour, but we may may not need to go this far this dependent on the latest information and what the trail cameras show.
Snow Leopards have been recorded at all times of day and night. On numerous occasions animals have been recorded during the first and last couple of hours of daylight and it is just a matter of perseverance until we hopefully succeed! The monitoring of the Snow Leopards takes place through trail cameras which will help us greatly in achieving success.
** NOTE** This itinerary needs complete flexibility to maximise our chances of success. Therefore if we have still been unsuccessful by day 9, days 10-12 will be re-scheduled to give more time in Snow Leopard areas. Of course, nothing is guaranteed but we have an excellent chance with more time in the field.
Overnight in Ger tents with camping shower, toilet and food catering tent
Day 9: Yol Valley – Bulagtai Steppe
Dependent on our success with Snow Leopard we will visit the Yol Valley and Bulagtai Steppe. Species today may include Wallcreeper, Mongolian Finch, Lammergeier and Himalayan Griffon Vulture. A search of the Steppe areas may reveal Greater Sand Plover and Oriental Plovers post breeding flocks dependent on the time of the visit. We may also check an area that can be productive for migrants as well as checking out a reliable site fro Great Gerbil. Overnight Dalanzadgad Hotel
Day 10: Travel to Ulaanbaatar (if successful with SL)
Today is mostly a travel day as we head back north but making a number of birding stops en route. Overnight Mongolica Hotel
Day 11: Khustai NP
Today we will set off to the west of UB and head for Khustai NP. This day will take us to some very new habitats and we will see plenty of new wildlife. We will spend most of the day in the park where we hope to find species such as Daurian Partridge, Amur Falcon, Saker Falcon and Meadow Bunting. The park is also very good for mammals and we will look for Daurian Ground Squirrel, Corsac Fox and the famous re-introduced Przewalski’s Horses. Though there is a healthy Wolf population in the park, we would need some luck to have a sighting. Overnight Tourist Ger Camp Hustai NP
Day 12: Lake Bayan – UB
This morning we will head off after breakfast to Lake Bayan. This lake is a breeding area for White-naped Cranes and family groups should still be present. At this time of year many waders are on the move and amongst the commoner Long-toed Stints and Sharp-tailed Sandpipers we may find small numbers of Asian Dowitchers. We will also be looking for Pallas’s Bunting, Swan Goose, Bar-headed Goose and migrants. We will return to UB during the late afternoon. Overnight Mongolica Hotel
Day 13: Gorkhi – Terelj NP
We shall head to the forested hills of Terelj where we will be in very different habitat and we should find many new species. Dependent on the time of the trip we may find Taiga Flycatcher, Rufous-throated Thrush, Pine Bunting, Dusky Warbler and Siberian Rubythroat.
Siberian Chipmunk is usually easy to find too. Overnight Mongolica Hotel
Day 14: Transfer to Airport
We will take the short transfer to the airport for an early morning departure.